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Major plan to end FGM in Scotland

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Scotland, National Plan, end FGMScotland launches ‘National Action Plan to Tackle Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) 2016-2020’ .

The Scottish Government considers Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) to be an unacceptable and illegal practice, a form of abuse and a violation of the human rights of women and girls. It reflects deep‑rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women and girls.

Scotland’s new National Action Plan builds on work that has been happening throughout Scotland, bringing together best practice alongside a national plan, and aims to help the Scotish Government ensure that they are taking the necessary steps to put their commitment to protecting girls and women from harm into practice.

It represents a comprehensive and ambitious plan for addressing this complex and often hidden abuse.

FGM has been illegal in Scotland since 1985 and it is considered a form of violence against women and girls and a violation of their human rights internationally, as it is an extremely harmful practice with devastating short and long-term health consequences for girls and women.

Equally Safe,‘ Scotland’s strategy for tackling all forms of violence against women and girls – including FGM – aims to prevent and eradicate violence against women and girls.

And aims to create a country where each individuals is equally safe and respected – and where women and girls live free from abuse and the attitudes and behaviours that help perpetuate it.

The National Action Plan’s approach to tackling FGM is aligned with the overarching priorities of this Equally Safe strategy.

The purpose of this National Action Plan is to foster an environment of prevention in Scotland and to improve the welfare and quality of life of FGM survivors, with a focus on the linked areas of prevention, protecting girls at risk of FGM; and provision of appropriate support and sensitive services for survivors of FGM.

FGM reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.

In addition to the severe pain during and in the weeks following the cutting, women who have undergone FGM experience various long-term effects, physical, sexual and psychological.

But FGM will be an issue in Scotland until the ‘cutting’ communities themselves choose to abandon the practice and it is clear that in order to find a solution to eradicate FGM, working with potentially affected communities is vital when it comes to breaking the cycle of this violence.

The views of communities affected by FGM must shape and inform future policy and service provision.

To ensure everything that possibly can be done to tackle this violence, both at home in Scotland and abroad, is being done, the Scottish Government is committed to working with all of its partners in the statutory and third sectors and potentially affected communities to progress a range of interventions targeted at preventing FGM.

This is part of wider ongoing work to tackle all forms of violence against women and girls and to take robust action against the perpetrators of this abuse, including strengthening the law as appropriate, as well as measures to keep women and children who may be at risk safe and well.

One element of this is a short animated film called Sara’s Story, that provides information on the causes and possible impacts of FGM.

Produced in Scotland by mediaco-op for the Women’s Support Project , with funding from the Scottish Government, Sara’s Story is based on real-life accounts by women survivors of FGM.

The film is aimed at practitioners in front line services such as health, social work, education, housing and criminal justice, and offers tips for responding.

You can download a copy of this film here.

Additional resources to support training and public education work can be found here.

Scotland’s National Action Plan is divided into 4 sections:

Section One describes what FGM is and the scale of the issue globally, as well as the policy and legislative landscape underpinning the National Action Plan.

Section Two sets out the ongoing work – Where we are now – and Section Three describes what remains to be done.

The National Action Plan itself is presented in Section 4, which includes the specific objectives, actions, activities and responsibilities required to drive and ensure the changes required actually happen.

The objectives and actions are based on research, on experience of other countries, engagement with partners in all sectors and the experiences and expertise of communities and of service providers and service users.

The strategic approach recognises the need to prioritise prevention/protection from FGM, provision of services/appropriate support to those who have experienced FGM, and to hold perpetrators to account.

It also identifies any gaps in current knowledge and makes recommendations on how they can be closed by working collaboratively with partners across a wide range of interests and policy areas.

Essentially, the Scottish Government’s approach to these issues is preventive, supportive and legislative including, for example, changing attitudes and behaviours.

FGM is a global issue and the government recognises that the best interventions in Scotland cn be made by adopting and adapting good practices from other countries around the world.

The ambition is that Scotland in turn can become a model for other countries when it comes to ending FGM and supporting survivors.

And Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, executive lead for Major Crime and Public Protection for Police Scotland, said: “FGM is a serious violent crime involving the severest form of abuse of children and young women.

“The protection of girls and women from this abuse and the prevention and eradication of FGM is a priority for Police Scotland, and the responsibility of all those within our society.

“Police Scotland is committed to providing a professional and consistent approach to all victims of FGM and ensuring the safety of any child, young person or adult identified who may be at risk of FGM, in partnership with Scottish Government, our statutory and voluntary partners and our local communities.

“We will thoroughly investigate all reports received and pursue information which may lead to identifying any person as being involved in performing or arranging FGM.

“Since the inception of Police Scotland, we have undertaken FGM awareness raising both locally and nationally for police officers and staff.

“This training has been extended and involves key partners, to ensure that together we all have the necessary understanding, awareness and skills to allow us to respond appropriately to this complex and sensitive subject.”

If you would like more information about FGM, the Women’s Support Project has information and resources about FGM and details of organisations that can help; Saheliya provides well-being services and practical help to access benefits, housing, legal representation and learning activities; Roshni works to ensure safety and well-being of children, young people and vulnerable adults within the ethnic minority communities and the NSPCC has an FGM Helpline and offers advice, information and support to anyone concerned that a child’s welfare is at risk because of female genital mutilation.

For advice or help you can call the FGM helpline: 0800 028 3550 all day every day of the week.

If you or someone you know is at immediate risk, call 999.

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